Central America and Mexico cruises are extremely popular with travellers as they portray a vast diversity of landscapes and culture. Cruises to this region promise a world of natural wonders, from tranquil white beaches to lush jungle canopies, and from mighty rivers and canals to towering mountains and eerie caves.
Along with the spectacular landscape, the culture is also truly eclectic with a fascinating blend of ancient civilisation, contemporary cities, Spanish flair and colonial architecture; the combination is both intriguing and unique. Diving, a variety of watersports, cultural history, mountains, monuments, and marine and wildlife attractions all make Central American cruises the perfect destination for any traveller, regardless of personal interest. For example, those with an interest in history and culture can enjoy the sights of Mexico and take in the mystical Mayan ruins, which display haunting evidence of the Maya people, the beliefs of which have made quite the indent in today’s society.
Tulum, Mexico, is home to one of the more recent Mayan communities, and the buildings and structures are some of the most well preserved in the country. Tulum is an easy and convenient excursion from Cozumel, where many of the major liners dock. Central America traditionally consists of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The rich heritage and cultural diversity of these countries offers visitors broad and plentiful opportunities when travelling.
A key attraction on these Central American cruises is the Panama Canal, a true engineering marvel. The Panama Canal is not only a means of transport for cruise ships, but also a unique sightseeing destination in itself. The 48 mile long canal, which took 30 years to complete, was one of the most complex engineering projects of its time, and successfully created a quicker, safer route for trade ships travelling between Europe and the west coast of the Americas. Panama sees more than 1.5 million visitors each year, many of whom come to marvel at the accomplishment. The season for sailing the Panama Canal runs from October to April, with the rainy season ending in November.
Shore excursions can include trips to Puntarenas in Costa Rica, where you can bask in the Hot Springs on the slopes of the active Arenal volcano, or visit the rainforests at Pura Vida Gardens. Another popular excursion is to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. These gardens are one of the most popular attractions in Costa Rica, and it’s not hard to see why - five beautiful and gushing falls, 200 lb jungle cats roaming their habitat, and cheeky spider monkeys are just some of the highlights at this natural haven. Costa Rica is also home to the Tortuguero National Park where green tortoises, crocodiles, and exotic birds are kept.
Central America isn’t just about the weird and wonderful wildlife and intriguing blend of culture, however. Believe it or not, it’s also one of the most popular destinations for thrill seekers looking to really get the adrenaline pumping. White water rafting along the Reventazón River is gripping, hair-raising, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that no adrenaline junkie can miss out on. There are well over 40 miles of rapids along the river, with sections suited to both beginners looking for a gentle introduction, and those looking for a more electrifying experience.
Many ports in Mexico are visited as part of Caribbean cruise itineraries from the United States, usually from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, while the Central American countries can be visited via fly cruise, or as part of a world tour, in between visits to the Gulf Coast and South America or the west coast of the United States. The tropical climate means there’s really no distinct winter season here, so whenever you travel, you can almost guarantee a warm and pleasant environment. However, between September and February, storms in the Gulf and Caribbean can cause some winds and rainfall on the east.
Whatever your interests, a Central America cruise has something to offer everyone and is the perfect opportunity to visit destinations very few people will ever see. The clear blue waters, glorious beaches and abundant rainforests ensure Central America cruises really do incorporate all of the 'must have' aspects that make for an incredible holiday.
Welcome to Mexico’s ultimate beach resort. The port of Acapulco presents a sun worshippers paradise with sensational entertainment and a setting to match. The stunning views along the beaches portray utter beauty and a visit to the Pacific Coast Mexican Riviera has never been so beautiful. Five star hotels line the beachfront combined with eccentric water sports and an abundance of bars, cafés and restaurants to choose from.
Acapulco presents a fabulous array of choice to suit all interests. Whether you’re looking for a day to relax in the sunshine or an enthralling venture insight into the destinations highlights there is plenty to see and do here. The centre of attention here is without question the ocean, the views are sublime and the quaint blissful backdrop is truly awe inspiring however, there is much more to this superb port of call. Acapulco is also renowned for its vibrant nightlife and lively bars. During the day the captivating restaurant choices provide the chance to indulge in authentic Mexican cuisine or perhaps enjoy a little retail therapy at the many chic boutiques flanking the enchanting streets.
Passengers looking for adrenaline pumping activities will love the choice of water sports here. Often renowned for being a surfer’s paradise, this venue is perfect to learn or alternatively enjoy spectacular snorkelling and scuba diving sessions. There’s even the opportunity, should guests wish to head out into the ocean and enjoy deep-sea fishing. One of the area’s notorious features has to be the cliff diving setting of La Quebrada. To see such a sight is absolutely amazing as locals plunge 130 feet into the ocean from the cliffs above. The waters below are often incredibly powerful and therefore the jumpers timing has to be impeccable to read the incoming waves. The sheer grace, timing and above all bravery here is breath taking as the divers take to their very own stage every lunchtime and evening; perfect for a unique photograph.
The Fort of San Diego provides the backdrop for cruise ship arrival. The main cruise terminal here is set in Old Acapulco and provides a charming setting to welcome passengers. The magnificent harbour setting allows passengers to disembark straight into the action. The Old Town is immediately to the west whilst a beautiful beach scene lies just steps to the east; a big attraction for guests looking to just take a stroll and relax.
Acapulco has been renowned for many years for attracting famous celebrities and with the entrancing scenery it is not hard to see why. Frank Sinatra and John Wayne were just two of the famous stars to continuously visit the area over the years. This destination boasts three distinctively different districts known as Old Acapulco, the Costera and Acapulco Diamante. Old Acapulco portrays an easy going, laid back area of utter relaxation whilst encompassing a feel of traditional Mexico, the heart and soul of the area is the famous plaza for chic shopping. The Costera is all about energy with superb hotels, fine dining and impeccable beach scenes. The picturesque boulevard here along the sea front is certainly a place worth visiting for a romantic stroll. The Diamante is an area of ultra-style. This is the high end enclave of Acapulco and provides the lavish core of this illustrious port of call. Celebrity homes here include Robert Redford and Oprah Winfrey set in the tremendous hillside and this is also the home of the many grand resorts such as the Fairmont Pierre Marques. For beaches, this is a special place; in particular the glorious Playa Revolcadero glistens in the sunlight.
Excursions here are fantastic and depend on individual preference as to how active you wish to be. Cultural extravagance can be witnessed with trips to the first excavated site of the Yope civilisation at the Tehuacalco Ruins or alternatively gain insight into colonial Acapulco. This trip whisks guests off to discover the Fort of San Diego, The Historical Museum and the delightful Chapel of Peace.
Marine life sightseeing here is stunning and there are many excursion opportunities to enjoy including snorkelling adventures, scuba diving spectacles and even an opportunity to release baby turtles into the ocean. Combine these with a refined afternoon tea at the Aztac style creation that is the Acapulco Princess Hotel and you have the makings of a truly wonderful day.
For a thrill seeking day then head for La Quebrada and take in the cliff diving spectacular. Watch on as the men willing to risk their lives each and every day say a prayer before delving deep into the ocean, piercing the waves at exactly the right time for an amazing sight.
Acapulco provides a fabulous port of call for magnificent scenery, sunshine and delectable cuisine; a Mexican highlight, Acapulco’s awe inspiring stature continues to reign proud.
This delightful city is today the second largest in Panama and is located at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal. The port title is Cristobal which is Spanish for Christopher whilst the city derives its name from the Spanish for Columbus. Colon was founded in 1850 however has undergone many changes over the years especially during the turn of the new millennium. Since the drastic re development plans were implemented the city of Colon now boasts a thrilling destination to explore. Passengers have the pleasure of enjoying a fabulous port of call for shopping along with the opportunity to visit the perfect starting point for exploring the rest of the wonder that is Panama.
The ecology here is a huge attraction to a wide variety of tourists from all over the world. Take the chance to gain a closer look at the outstanding wildlife species in the area, especially at the enchanting location of Gatun Lake. The opportunity to witness the incredible rainforest is truly breath taking and you even have such options as visiting the San Lorenzo Fort and the banks of the Chagres River.
For a cultural enrichment head for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to explore and learn the wondrous ways of this part of the world. Also take in the magical flora of this centre before heading into the rainforest for further exploration.
Passengers have the chance to gain a thrilling insight into native lifestyle with the chance to visit the Embera Indian village on the banks of Gatun Lake. Marvel at the iconic structures used for shelter along with the masterful craftsmanship of the locals. You can even participate should you wish. The transfers to and from this location are by canoe allowing for a unique experience along the way and many exciting photo opportunities. The Embera will offer knowledge into their way of life including herbal medicines, beliefs, superstitions and even the chance to see how they propose marriage.
Away from the sights of the rainforests, passengers also have the chance here to discover Panama City and its rich historical heritage and many outstanding attractions. The Panama Railroad is also a thrilling opportunity crossing the continental divide, leading passengers towards the Pacific side and offering photographical opportunities along the way, especially for wildlife such as the Howler Monkeys and toucans. This tour can be done as standard or guests can opt for a private Dome Car with more viewing opportunities and the full panoramic experience.
Whatever you decide to do here, a visit to Colon is certainly not to be missed. This magical destination offers so much to see and do that the hardest decision of the day will be where to go first.
Huatulco is a vibrant and exciting port of call located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The full name of this beautiful destination is the Bays of Huatulco and here you will discover an array of 36 stunning beach settings that drape beautifully along the many crescents. This port of call offers a variety of exploration options but one of the most popular things to do here is to simply relax. This point of the Pacific Shore is renowned for its majestic white sand beaches and incredible azure waters, so if you’re looking for a place to unwind, this is it. Soak up the fabulous climate and blissful sunshine as you laze the day away before returning to your luxury cruise liner, sound good? We think so to.
If you wish to head ashore and explore the culture and history of this exquisite destination then there are plenty of excursions here to do so. All cruise lines that visit here provide an excellent choice of tours to take in the best of this fantastic port of call. To experience the best views of the island be sure to head for the Bay of Tangolunda, this is a regular stop point for tours here and it’s no surprise considering the superb panoramic views. This is the ideal place for a photograph stop.
To learn more about local culture and heritage, be sure to visit the neighbouring communities of the Huatulco area. The Santa Maria Huatulco is a stunning church and great place to visit. Here you’ll see the graphical representation of Huatulco’s history within the church itself painted on the walls. From here you can also learn the ways of the locals and their age old traditions. Learn more about the many different species of edible and medicinal herbs used here as well as gaining an insight into the perfect production of tamales and tortillas in a traditional Mexican kitchen. For exciting ingredients, there is none more prominent here than the use of Nopal, the cactus used for many exquisite local dishes.
La Crucesita is another great place to visit and offers a brilliant location to become acquainted with Huatulco. Here you will see another beautiful church that is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. This area is also great for the many local shops and is an ideal spot for searching out the perfect souvenir to take home. Popular goods here include, Mezcal, the Oaxaca version of Tequila and black pottery. If you do visit here, on your way back to the port one of the best vantage points is at the Santa Cruz Viewpoint and this location is perfect for capturing the best of Huatulco. From here you have a superb birds eye view of the Playa Entrega, one of the best beaches here and you’ll even see your ship in the distance, a great opportunity for a once in a lifetime photograph.
A popular excursion opportunity here that is only available with certain cruise lines, most commonly Cunard, is the chance to take in a Fiesta folkloric show. These thrilling shows are fantastic and give a real sense of what Mexico is all about. Soak up the tremendous atmosphere and enjoy the array of colourful costumes and Mexican rhythm. Beats range from ‘La Bamba’ to ‘Polkas’ and ‘Tamboras’, this is a show not to be missed.
There is so much to see and do here that we have only just begun to scratch the surface of the exciting opportunities here to enjoy. On top of the aforementioned options you can also take a cruise to discover the many secluded coves and intimate beaches around the islands including the curious rock formations of pristine Organo Bay. There’s also the chance to take in Copalita, one of the most remarkable archaeological findings in the country over the last 20 years. Here you will find a fascinating combination of both Olmeca and Mayan cultures. Learn more about this incredible discovery and gain greater insight into the excavation plans, which could potentially span over the next 40 years. There’s even a burial site here that dates right back to 500 BC.
These excursion opportunities are all great but if it is just spending the day enjoying the gorgeous sunshine here you long for then fear not as there are plenty of places to enjoy it. La Entrega Beach is one of the finest around and here you’ll relish the enchanting setting. Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will enjoy the abundance of coral and spectacular marine life to be uncovered and there’s even the chance to head for Bat Cave, a great experience, located just a short distance from the beach itself. This is one way to relax but if you feel like sampling a luxury retreat then head for the Las Brisas Resort, the ideal spot to relax and soak up the outstanding indulgence of the pristine swimming pools, boutique shopping and glamorous restaurants.
Limon is famous for many reasons in the cruising world, first of all its entrancing beauty but also for the fantastic experiences on offer for an extraordinary day’s adventure. The rainforest here is where the excitement happens and the chance to take in the Rainforest Aerial Tram is a must for cruise passengers. This experience provides the chance to take in over 1000 acres of nature reserve and utter beauty as you are whisked through the rainforest canopy for unimaginable views. Not only this but there’s also the jungle boat option allowing guests to meander the many canal networks that flow throughout the jungle and get up close to the enchanting wildlife. This is a wonderful opportunity to see what life is like in the rainforest at ground level. For the daredevils amongst the group, several cruise operators also offer the opportunity to see the rainforest in true Tarzan style. Yes this really is a possibility; you have the chance to swing through the jungle on a series of traverse cables, maybe just a little slower than the film, however, for safety precautions but still a brilliant experience and a once in a lifetime thrill.
Wildlife here is truly breath taking; you will never run photographic opportunities especially with the magnificent butterflies and birds swirling up above. There’s even the chance to see the local monkeys on the Tortuguero Canals along with the famed green turtle.
When travelling to Costa Rica, passengers will realise the mesmerising beauty of its unbelievable landscapes. A large percentage of the area is national parks offering the opportunity to witness over 800 species of birds, and 8000 plant life species. Here there is also 10% of the world’s butterfly population; it certainly makes for an incredible atmosphere.
This eccentric port of call provides passengers with the opportunity to witness the natural beauty of Mexico. Set to the South, Puerto Chiapas is a wonderfully picturesque destination offering the chance to soak up the mountainous plains and tropical vegetation. The views here are utterly breath taking with varying landscapes creating a new vision around every corner; it really is a special place to visit.
Heading inland visitors here will love the vibrant and culturally rich city of Palenque. This enthralling city offers many opportunities for exploration and of course a little retail therapy. Shopping here is fantastic with many local craftsmen renowned for their impressive creations. Wood and stone carvings are particularly inventive and perfect for those looking to purchase a unique souvenir. The city of Palenque is set in a quite remarkable location. Right in the heart of a rainforest, it boasts magnificent surroundings the combine perfectly with the many stone temples and wonderfully colourful murals. Here you can be soaking up the ambience of city life one moment then gazing across a waterfall the next, a unique and once in a lifetime destination; Puerto Chiapas is a delightful port of call.
Explorers will love this place with the chance to see San Cristobal de Las Casa Cathedral, a sensational sightseeing pleasure but this is not just what the city is about. If you’re heading here with the intention of a relaxing holiday then fear not as Puerto Chiapas offers a sun seekers paradise. There are many beautiful beach settings to see, perfect for enjoying the glistening sunshine or for an evening stroll in the moonlight. The ambience here is awe inspiring so be prepared to witness a truly superb port of call on your Panama Canal cruising adventure.
This stunning Central American cruise port boasts astoundingly beautiful landscapes and spectacular scenery. Guatemala is fast becoming one of the world’s most exciting eco-tourism and cruise destinations with a colourful history dating way back to Mayan times.
The incredible mixture of landscapes here is utterly breath taking. As you head towards the interior of Puerto Quetzal you will discover a lush panorama of coastal plains, lakes, mountains, volcanoes and valleys. This dramatic scenery has created a habitat for over 300 different species of birds and if you looked hard enough you would find no fewer than 600 types of orchid located here. The interior is also home to many traditional villages and many Mayan Indian communities still call Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan Highlands home. The main ancient Mayan cluster however is located at Tikal, closer to the Caribbean coast. This is a fascinating location to see.
Many cruise lines when visiting here now offer the chance to visit the old Guatemalan capital, La Antigua. This city was sadly destroyed by severe earthquakes over 300 years ago but the ruins still remain and setting of this Spanish colonial city still remains extremely special set in the shadow of three volcanoes. The ruins are now a World Heritage Site.
La Antigua offers the opportunity to step back in time and experience the rich architecture and impressive remains. The colonial architecture here is truly spectacular and the preserved ruins include fallen domes and the miracle chapels and plazas that somehow escaped damage. At La Antigua you can also visit the excellent Azotea Cultural Centre and the K’Ojom Museum. K’Ojom translates to ‘music’ and this is an interactive museum allowing cruise passengers to enjoy an immersive experience into the regions fascinating traditions and festivities. Other attractions to be seen here include the San Francis Church Museum and the jade factory. This wonderful city can be explored independently or via a cruise excursion through your cruise operator. We do advise taking a cruise excursion as this often allows you to see more during your time here and also covers return transfers to and from the city.
A visit to Puerto Quetzal also offers the opportunity to do something unique. One exciting excursion option here is the chance to see some of the world’s most spectacular animals at the Chapin Safari Park. This fantastic experience takes you to see one of the largest animal parks in the region. Founded in 1980, the park is completely open air and therefore you can witness the wide range of animals that live here from the comfort of your private transport. There is also a walk around area and this is where you can get up close to many animals, birds and reptiles indigenous to Guatemala.
Another exciting and exhilarating excursion opportunity here is to experience the adrenaline pumping zip line adventure. This is an excursion only available with several cruise lines that visit here and was originally started by P&O Cruises. You’ll travel to La Antigua for a safety briefing before you head for the tree tops to glide through the sky between a series of platforms. This magnificent experience provides astonishing views of Guatemala’s three main volcanoes and your tour guide will ensure you are kept informed of the superb scenery along the way.
Puntarenas portrays the largest city in the central Pacific and showcases a tremendous array of Spanish colonial architecture. Costa Rica may be a small country but the area has a huge appeal to visiting tourists due to the captivating ecological diversity. It is the intriguing location of this destination that causes such a fascinating diversity. Costa Rica sits neatly between Nicaragua and Panama, a perfect position on the peninsula connecting North and South America. The combination of scenery develops with the Caribbean Sea to one side and the Pacific Ocean to the other. It is because of this extraordinary position that both vegetation and wildlife are able to flourish.
The most visited area of Puntarenas for tourists is the beautiful Paseo de los Turistas which stretches along the most popular beach scene here. This walkway is filled with alfresco dining options of superb restaurants and quaint cafes. Guests will discover divine seafood concoctions, freshly caught by local fisherman and the resident delicacies include the most incredible shrimp along with the famous ceviche de corvine, which is a marinated fish cocktail, drizzled with lime juice for a full flavour experience. The beach scene itself is excellent with lavish white sands leading to the crystal clear ocean scape.
Head further afield from Puntarenas and you are also in for a treat. The countryside here is breath taking and especially the glorious Manuel Antonio Park. This magical area presents a superb beach scene that connects with a rainforest border creating a combination of stunning scenery to one side and sensational snorkelling opportunities to the other. The forest trails that lead off into the wilderness allow for a whisking adventure into the local wildlife inhabitants including some of the famous creatures as iguanas and squirrel monkeys.
A huge attraction for cruise passengers at Puntarenas is the choice of eco adventures to undertake. Horse riding here is extremely popular, especially along the beach front or perhaps push the body a little more with a rainforest hike. Waterways provide the opportunity for impeccable kayaking adventures or even white water rafting should you wish.
Excursions here are truly fabulous, the array of cultural highlights is magnificent and the area provides the perfect chance to combine natural beauty with man-made exquisite structures. The varying small town areas dotted around the outskirts of Puntarenas provide a thorough insight into traditional Costa Rica whilst the awe inspiring range of rainforest excursions are superb. Take in the amazing Forest Sky Walk, a dramatic walkway right through the heart of the rainforest encompassing three suspended cable bridges up to 126 feet above the ground. Alternatively you could choose the option for a tour to the Arenal Volcano before revelling in the pleasures of the natural hot springs. The Arenal Volcano in particular is an absolute must for an unforgettable sight. This iconic location is ever active and its perfect cone shape is complimented by the surrounding spectacle Lake Arenal. The El Tabacón Hot Springs portray ten different pool areas created with the warm sulphur water from the volcano itself, a once in a lifetime way of laying back to relax.
For a mangrove forest, eco wilderness exploration, head into the entrancing area of the Guacalillo Estuary, known for its varied species along the way. The conservation of the Scarlet Macaw is also a fabulous point of interest in the areas nearby to complete the day.
Away from the rainforest scenery, the beautiful city areas provide the chance to explore some of the stunning monuments including the famous Metal Church of Grecia as well as the local craft innovations of Sarchi.
The choice here is outstanding and the destination itself boasts an impressive choice of attracting features. Whether with the family or aboard a romantic cruise for two, the destination of Puntarenas is a must see.
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